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The Psalms of Change


Zhenevere Sophia Dao

0:00:00 Canto 1  The Movement in the Hill: Spring to Summer
0:30:10 Canto 2  Joy's Abjection: Summer to Fall
1:08:44 Canto 3  The Metal Curtains: Fall to Winter
1:38:42 Canto 4  The Great Elk: Winter to Spring

I wrote THE PSALMS OF CHANGE, a book-length poem in four parts, or “cantos,” over a period of about three weeks in the early fall of 2020, a collapsion of time that seems to have constellated a certain consummation in my gender emergence.


The epic takes its inspiration from what I might call the personal-epical lyric of both Dante’s DIVINE COMEDY and T.S. Eliot’s FOUR QUARTETS, poems of shattering beauty, philosophical scope, and sudden, unexpected tenderness.


The PSALMS OF CHANGE is ghosted by and ghosts these lofty artifacts, spanning a wide discursive arc of cares, but derives its faith from the holy and terrible abjection of personal experience, most especially the transgender experience.


The music that introduces and concludes the cantos is by Balkan vocal trio Black Sea Hotel. Willa Roberts, founding member of the group, generously provided me with this haunting music, as ethereal as it is earthly, as demanding as it is consoling. Willa also collaborates with me as the character of the Muse in SACRa Theater’s operatic play, HAMLETTE'S MUSE, a lyrical counterpart to HAMLETTE AND OPHELIA, a play which re-imagines Shakespeare's lovers through a queer and transgender lens. The musical pieces included here are: Mome Stoje (arr. Willa Roberts), Malino Mome (arr. Corinna Snyder), Vardar Muten (arr. Joy Radish), and Zhenish Me Mamo (arr. Sarah Small).;


This recording owes its technical purity to the care and know-how of Brian Roberts, without whose kind patience and diligence this project could never have been brought to fruition.


This is an unabridged recording of THE PSALMS OF CHANGE, read by myself.


Zhenevere Sophia Dao
February 7, 2021

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Drawing by William Blake

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